From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
Common Name: Scarlet Pentapetes
Scientific Name: Pentapetes phoenicea
Description: Tender, ornamental, annual flower; Scarlet, mallow-like blossoms open at noon and close at dawn. Distinctive, olive green foliage with serrated edges
Size: Grows 3 to 5 feet; upright habit
Cultural Information: Prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained garden loam
Historical Notes: Jefferson sowed seed of this tender annual along his flower border in 1811, calling it "Scarlet Mallow." He likely received seed from Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon, who noted the flower in his book, The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806. This unusual plant of the Old World Tropics, rarely cultivated in America, is a member of the chocolate family with brownish-green stems and mallow-like blossoms. It makes a handsome accent plant in the garden.